Saturday, November 18, 2017

November 18, 2017

Forget the rain and snow—let's remember the trees with their glorious fall foliage. Here, for instance, Madeleine paints some trees from Ann Arbor. What better name for a tree sanctuary! This painting has it all: composition, color, brushwork—not to mention the flare from the sun bursting through the trees.

If we're painting trees, we can't help but mention Sara. She's been particularly prolific this past week, not only in terms of quantity, but the range of techniques, media and sizes she's explored. Here, for instance, is today's painting. It's a lovely mixture of watercolor and watercolor pencil. We particularly like the texture in the tree bark.

Straight watercolor here. It's almost finished and deftly contrasts the foliage with the manmade elements like the garage roof and the skyscraper.

These two trees are done in colored pencil. Sara began her art career with colored pencil and hasn't lost her touch. See how beautifully the colors blend and the texture she is able to achieve.

These two paintings are done with watercolor pencil.  Look at the different ways Sara has used the pencils—drawing and wetting later, drawing into water and even touching the brush to the pencil tip and using that as paint. Each technique yields a different result. Look closely!

This is a watercolor Sara began last week. She's gone in with watercolor pencil to add color, contrast and textural accents.

Alan is all about trees (and experimentation), too. We love this minimalist painting of a lake on a foggy morning. It's painted on watercolor canvas and the soft shoreline is beautifully framed by the lake foliage. 

You may remember the watercolor study Alan did of this scene. Now, he's finished painting it on Yupo. Zoom in and look at the colors and mosaic-like center.

And Alan's been doing a sketch-of-the-day. The subjects vary, but the technique is the same—contour drawings in ink with added watercolor.

Bill finished his castle on the hill from last week. There wasn't much to add, but the slight definition to the castle really makes this landscape come to life.

Closer to home, Bill painted a waterfall from Chicago's Botanic Garden. We love the water against the stones and the way the waterfall is framed on three sides by the trees and leaves.

With minutes left of class time, and inspired by the textures of Sara's watercolor pencil, Bill painted this lovely little houseplant. The red outlines really define the green leaves, don't they?

While corn isn't really a houseplant, Ken is still fascinated by the leaves and stalks and adds a mosaic sky as a background....

... before moving on to something new. No, it's not corn (or cats or trains or women). These are the tomatoes of summer. Again, notice how the complementary color outline makes the color pop. And we love the serenity provided by the minimal grid layout.

Greeta has been doing the sketch-of-the-day thing too, but she's used a variety of techniques. Here's a page from her sketchbook. Unfortunately, we didn't get more, but we can assure you these are exquisite.

Greeta adds another page to the Houses of West Graceland book. This time, she features a lovely craftsman house with the typical eaves, stucco finish and overhang.  Seriously, this is some neighborhood!

Elaine's painting a house from her neighborhood, too, but this is a house of worship. There's still a bit to do, but we can see what attracted her—the lacy stonework at the top of the tower. And the lacy foliage framing the brick and stone adds a nice touch.

Susan paints another awe-inspiring place she saw on her Canadian Rockies trip.  This is Banff with Cascade Mountain in the background. The ice cream stand is in town and for a moment of "aww!," we see Susan and her husband sharing an ice cream cone. The mountain itself looks like ice cream, doesn't it? And the ice cream colors of the sky are a perfect background.

Our newest members are all about color, too. Cesar is still finishing his color wheel, but shared this stylized portrait.  That's not watercolor—that's India ink! Yes, he's glazed thin layers of ink to create those smooth gradations.  If you've ever worked with India ink, you know what a feat this is.

We're at one of our favorite exercises—the three way fruit. If you haven't been following, the goal is to quickly paint the same fruit three ways: very wet, very dry, and then a combination. Yanna begins with one of the biggest and most colorful grapefruits we've ever seen (it may be a pomelo or a Texas grapefruit, but whatever it is, it's amazing). We've labeled the painting styles and love Yanna's colors and especially the shadows.

Yi brought a single perfect tomato, complete with attached branch. We love the branch and are in awe of how dry her dry painting is. She also found a way to control the wet by leaving white between colors so the paint doesn't bleed. Clever! 

 You know the color-matching exercise, don't you? Yi took it a step further, incorporating her colors into a scene from a book. She also brought the samples, so you know they are spot on.

This is Crazie's gourd in the three techniques. We love the complementary color shadow in the combo painting and the control she's achieved in the combo.

These new people are showing us up! Here's another imaginative take on the color matching exercise. Crazie has incorporated the actual items into a story painting. The moon is the color of the moon, the ginko leave is the color of a ginko leaf. And that's Crazie herself with her own jacket.

 You know how we like to experiment with media and backgrounds. Crazie made this outfit—by hand! And she's painted the decorative elements with fabric paint. Look closely to see the top and skirt... and the delicate flowers on the jacket.

Here's a back view. She's signed the skirt, appropriately enough as this is truly a work of art.

Upcoming Events

DePaul Community Chorus—Here's a chance to hear Steve and the DePaul Community Chorus. It's a free concert on Sunday, November 19 at the DePaul Concert Hall at 800 W. Belden in Chicago.

This is the annual Carols concert and they will be performing the music of Brahms and Britten. Steve says it's a great piece and one of his favorites—so you know that's saying something! Click here to learn more: A Ceremony of Carols—DePaul Community Chorus.

Food.  Alan and Greeta are featured artists in a group show about Food. The show runs through January, so there's still time to catch it. If you attend, you are asked to please bring a donation of non-perishable food for neighborhood food pantries.

      4243 N  Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL

     Exhibition: September 16–January 13

Group Show. Watch this space for details! It's true—we may be having a group show sometime in December! We'll know more for sure next week and will give you more info just as quickly as we get it.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

November 11, 2017

We begin with Elaine's painting of a memorable visit to Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day. While the painting (and the visit) are several years old, it's our way to thank all of those who have done so much to protect our rights and freedom—on Veterans Day and every day. We thank you!

We begin with a series of architectural studies. Madeleine used line and wash for this lovely view of a building in Ireland. Look closely at the lovely, subtle colors and textures.

Bill's castle on a hill is also from Ireland. He's finished the sky and foreground and is still adding final details to the stone castle. 

Elaine is also painting a detail of a building, but it's a little closer to home. It's too soon to see, but she was inspired by the contrast between the solid brick and the lacy stonework at the top.

Greeta painted another building from her West Graceland neighborhood. We're impressed with the beauty of these buildings and hope for a walking tour when the weather improves. 

And here, Greeta's finished her doggy driver painting. We can't help but smile when we see this.

We kept passing Greeta's sketchbooks around today... first the houses and now this one. She's doing a sketch a day. It only has to be 15 minutes, but it's daily. This is a sketch of three people she saw riding on her bus. She sketched them in ballpoint on the bus and added the watercolor washes later.

This sketch copies a postcard for a memorial show Greeta attended. Again, only 15 minutes, but we love the way we can feel the wet and humid atmosphere.

Ellen is combining people and pets, but not the usual drinking or driving dog. Here's a boy and his calf. Seriously, the calf is drinking from a bottle and casting a lovely shadow in the process.

And now for something completely different. As you may recall, Sara comes to watercolor from a background in colored pencil.  She went back to her roots to revisit this triple portrait. We are amazed at the detail, accuracy and rich color and are eager to see it progress.

Sara's been busy this week, painting the changing colors of the trees in her neighborhood. Good thing, too—the early snow seems to have stopped the show this year. In this painting, she's added the window frame, which really draws focus to the subject.

More trees by Sara, each exploring the brilliant colors of the season. Enjoy!

Susan is painting trees too, but hers are in the Canadian Rockies, and they are evergreens. This train is crossing a river before it enters a tunnel. We love the highlights and the reflection of the bridge in the water.

 All the beautiful colors in the paintings above stem from our earliest experiments. Here is one of the most valuable—the color wheel. Yanna does the full color wheel, with tints, tones and shades...

... before experimenting with complementary colors, combining them, and matching paper towels and skin tones. This is going to be a great reference!

Yi has gotten the reputation of being our "scientist." She very methodically did her color wheel and then experimented with combining colors from different areas of the color wheel. No wonder the corners are so beautifully co-ordinated.

 And the scientific process continues in Yi's exploration of complementary colors. She cleverly positions the pairs to compare the interaction of a color with its complement and with other colors. Then, she combined colors, adding and noting colors, to get the paper towel and skin colors. Long live science!

Less scientific, but equally valuable are Crazie's color wheels. Yes, that's plural! She did the color wheel in two different styles. First, she glazed colors; then, she made a pocket reference color wheel mixing discreet colors on her palette.

You can tell this sheet of complementary color work is Crazie's, can't you? It has the same exuberance as the wheel above. Follow her path around the page as she compares complements, mixes them and matches colors of paper towels, her clothes and skin. We congratulate her on getting the paper towel in three tries!

We end with a bonus painting by Crazie. She used blots and spatters to get the feeling of fireworks and explosions. It worked!

Somehow, we missed getting photos of Ken's latest corn leaves and Cesar's color wheel. Next week will be different! We won't let them escape without photos. Meanwhile, you still have a few days to catch the exhibitions below.

Corn and Cats.  Ken's show at Ten Cat Tavern is in its final days. While you missed the opening reception—and it was fun—you can still drop by to see the paintings.

      3931 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL

     September 30–November 15 

Food.  Alan and Greeta are featured artists in a group show about Food. The show runs through January, so there's still time to catch it. If you attend, you are asked to please bring a donation of non-perishable food for neighborhood food pantries.

      4243 N  Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL

     Exhibition: September 16–January 13